A COMMUNITY scheme to improve broadband at a village in the east of the district is gathering pace.

The Darras Hall Community Fibre Scheme was established with a mission to resolve issues relating to poor broadband coverage in some parts of the area.

Hexham's MP Guy Opperman revealed he held talks with the government's digital minister, Matt Warman MP, to push the residents' case for gigabit capable broadband.

The minister confirmed that Darras Hall was not eligible for a voucher scheme currently being offered to rural areas, as it is not considered to be a rural neighbourhood. But he did set out options for the future.

In a follow-up letter to Mr Opperman, the minister said the government wanted all areas of the country to have access to gigabit capable broadband, and was working to a national target of 85 per cent coverage by 2025 as part of a £5 billion funding package.

With this funding, the government is seeking to benefit to premises without an existing superfast connection, which amounts to 15 per cent of premises in Darras Hall.

Mr Opperman praised the "brilliant" community scheme, led by Simon Tappin, and said government officials were now collaborating with Northumberland County Council on the scheme.

He added: "I welcome this confirmation from the minister that the government is committed to rolling out gigabit broadband right across our region, and the prospect of local investment through the £5BN Gigabit Programme. My hope is that all of our efforts – particularly that of Simon, the local community and county council - will deliver a much improved service soon."